Obama's Latest Green-Energy Triumph: Ener1 Goes Bankrupt


Barack Obama’s record of success as an investor continues unabated, as Lachlan Markay of the Heritage Foundation reports that another Administration-subsidized “green energy” company has filed bankruptcy:

The company, Ener1, received a $118 million grant from DOE in 2010 as part of the president’s stimulus package. The money, which went to Ener1 subsidiary EnerDel, aimed to promote renewable energy storage battery technology for electrical grid use.

But despite generous federal support for the company, Ener1 was racked by problems last year. In October, NASDAQ delisted the company due to non-compliance with Securities and Exchange Commission filing requirements. A month later, the company’s president, chief executive, and top financial officer were fired.

[…] Ener1 is not the first energy storage technology company to file for Chapter 11 after receiving significant stimulus support. Beacon Power, which manufactures flywheel energy storage technology, received a $43 million loan guarantee from the same stimulus program that funded Solyndra. Despite having used $3 million marked for loan repayment to continue funding its daily operations, Beacon filed for Chapter 11 in November.

I’ve seen other sources say that “stimulus” grant was $118.5 million… but what’s half a million bucks, measured against the scale of the Obama debacle?  Let us not quibble about the petty cash of our brilliant central planners.

What killed Ener1?  According to Bloomberg News, “The company has been affected by competing battery developers in China and Korea, ‘which generally have a lower cost manufacturing base’ and lower labor and raw material costs, interim Chief Executive Officer Alex Sorokin said in the [bankruptcy] petition.”  Also, their big product line was lithium-ion batteries for electric cars, like the disastrous Chevy Volt.

But the only problem with America is that Barack Obama doesn’t have enough money to spend, so rich people should be fined for their success in order to increase his bankroll!

This brings up a point not often discussed in all the class warfare hectoring Obama is subjecting us to.  We are told it is “unfair” that rich people who make big money from capital gains and dividends pay a low effective tax rate on their loot.  The government is entitled to more of their income, which it will spend to greater social benefit than private citizens could. 

Implicit in this bedrock liberal assumption is that greedy private citizens cannot be trusted to spend money in a way that will benefit society.  On the contrary, if they are left alone to spend and invest their rightful earnings, they will hurt society.  The moment you stop believing this is the moment you begin your journey away from the Left.

Well, Barack Obama has spent more money than any President in history, and a great deal of it was portrayed as “stimulus” spending.  The idea behind stimulus spending is that the all-knowing government can centrally plan economic growth, making wise investments in crucial areas that the greedy, blinkered private sector is too short-sighted to support.  Obama has also spent fantastic amounts of our money on “green energy,” a brilliant investment that we’re just too stupid to have made on our own. 

Above all, the President has repeatedly told us, through no less than 17 highly publicized “pivots,” that his Number One priority is “job creation.”  When he cobbled together another big-spending bill and labeled it a “jobs bill,” he castigated his political opponents – with the entire Democrat Party singing backup – as being somehow opposed to job creation because they wouldn’t vote for it.

And yet, Obama’s “investments” are going bankrupt with astonishing speed.  The average cost of a “green job” works out to about $5 million.  In some of Obama’s highly touted projects, it worked out to more like $20 million.  Ener1 employed about 350 people at its height, according to Auto Observer.  Even if every one of those people was hired because of Obama’s $118.5 million “stimulus” grant in 2010, that would work out to $338,500 in subsidies per job.  And now they’re gone, less than two years later.

On the other hand, the investments made by those hated Evil Rich fat-cats are generally successful, or they wouldn’t be rich.  Those who maintain and grow their fortunes certainly don’t have a record of failure to match Obama’s.

Now, does anyone want to argue that those successful investors couldn’t create more jobs with the millions they pay in capital gains taxes – on income that has already been taxed several times – than Barack Obama can?  And yet, we are being angrily told that instead of lowering those taxes to stimulate investment, we must destroy even more investments by taxing them higher, so that politicians can subsidize more disasters, and more jobs can disappear.  We are absolutely forbidden to speculate on how many real jobs might have been created, if free citizens had been allowed to invest in real business opportunities as they saw fit.